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VOL. XXVII SEPTEMBER 1. No. 17
A.D., 1906—A.M., 6034
Views from the Watch Tower……………………275
Conscience a Barrier to Peace……………..275
The Lack Felt—Crying Aloud……………….275
Berean Bible Study on Love……………………277
“Thy Faith Hath Saved Thee”…………………..277
Bartimeus’ Experiences Illustrative………..278
“Salvation Come to Thy House”……………..280
Coming in the Name of the Lord………………..281
Cleansing the Temple……………………..282
The Temple a Den of Thieves……………….283
Teaching With Authority………………………284
An Entangling Question……………………285
“Whose Wife Shall She Be?”………………..286
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OUR SYMBOLIC PINS
For some time the friends have been inquiring for symbolic pins, and now we are able to supply them. One represents the scene of Isa. 11:6. Sister Darlington drew the design for us and it is very fine. The other is a representation of the cross, crown and wreath which appears on the upper left corner of the TOWER cover. These are without metal rims, celluloid finish—beautiful. The latter design is in three sizes, 5/8 in., 3/4 in. and 1-1/4 in.; the former is 1-1/4 in. in diameter.
Getting these made in large quantities permits us to supply them at 25 cents per dozen—postpaid. We will assort them three of each unless you specifically mention a different preference. They are ready now. You may order at once. From their appearance you would expect them to cost each, the price we charge by the dozen.
These pins sometimes serve as texts from which the Truth may be explained to inquirers. As you get to explaining their significance you will be preaching the good tidings of great joy almost unconsciously to others. There is nothing sectarian about the pins—nothing objectionable to any true Christian.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
CONSCIENCE A BARRIER TO PEACE
ALTHOUGH the Presbyterians and the Cumberland Presbyterians have officially united, there is some dissension. At Warrensburg, Mo., each denomination had a church edifice, and both had influential members. The union program was that the Cumberland meeting house should be used, but a majority of the Cumberland congregation (128 out of 230) objected to the union and locked the building against the Unionists and notified them that it could not be so used.
The ground of objection is that although the Presbyterians have adopted a new statement of their faith, which is unobjectionable, they still hold on to the old “Westminster Confession of Faith,” which these Cumberland Presbyterians cannot conscientiously endorse. Asked what particular portion of the Confession stung their consciences into disunion, one of their leaders, W. K. Morrow, produced the Presbyterian Higher Catechism and read the following:
“God’s decrees are the wise, free and holy acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men.
“God by an eternal and immutable decree out of his mere love for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory, and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life and the means thereof; and also, according to his sovereign power and the unsearchable counsel of his own will (whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favor as he pleaseth) hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.”
Mr. Morrow closed the book with a slam, held it up and said:
“I, for one, can’t swallow that doctrine, and I won’t have it forced down my throat. God never gave such a doctrine. It is of the devil. It would drive men to the devil instead of bringing them to God.”
* * *
The pity is that so many Christians are not so conscientious, but willing to stultify themselves for the sake of unity. The Bible rule is, “First pure, then peaceable”; and if it were strictly followed there would be a religious earthquake which would lead to true peace and unity.
THE LACK FELT—CRYING ALOUD
While some Christian people are so busied with forwarding Federative Christian Union and in performing “many wonderful works” (Matt. 7:22) that they do not feel the loss of spiritual power in Churchianity, others more alert to the true situation are crying aloud of their distress. Thus, for instance, The Christian Work and Evangelist (New York) says: “The great need is to make the Church mean in present conditions what Christianity meant to the world ages ago. This is the real reform needed. But, strange to say, there is no effort made in this direction. Instead, schemes of expediency are resorted to. In their last analysis institutional church efforts, young people’s movement, Church federation and the endowment of churches are such schemes primarily designed to gloss over glaring weaknesses, and to stimulate flagging interests. These efforts offer nothing for improving the ethical status of organized religion or for restoring the spirit of primitive Christianity. These efforts do not make the Church mean in the new condition what the early Christian Church meant ages ago.”
* * *
The real trouble is recognized by but few: it is the loss of the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Twenty-eight years ago faith in the teachings of the Bible began to suffer from the teachings of the Evolutionists and the Higher Critics. As a result faith in the divine revelation has waned, and Christian zeal and godly living in proportion. The Bible discredited, faith
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has no proper anchorage, and as our Lord said of the Samaritans, “Ye believe ye know not what!” Thus, many well-intentioned people are in a pitiable condition so far as religious conviction is concerned.
CONGREGATIONALISTS CONFESS THE CHANGE
The following extract from The Congregationalist, put in the mildest possible form, shows how important teachings have been abandoned. Some of these are improvements in that some errors are less tenaciously held; but with the rejected and incongruous errors went truths most vital—most essential to true Christian faith and necessary as a basis for Christian conduct and zeal for divine service. Note the difference between what “our fathers believed” and what “we believe.” We quote:—
“As to our belief in Christ—our fathers looked up to him as the second person in the Trinity, seated at the right hand of the throne of God the Father, after having purchased the forgiveness of our sins and the remission of sentence of eternal death by his death on the cross and his resurrection from the tomb. We see in him who is the ideal man, the Father manifested to human apprehension, the unique revelation of God to men. Through him we know God and we worship the Father in him. We do not attempt to put into exact forms of statement the relations between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, whose manifestation as God we see in Jesus Christ. To quote Professor Walker here: “Whether by virgin birth, by preexistence as the eternal Logos, by enduement at baptism, by Davidic descent, by all these lines of argument combined, or by others like his sinlessness and moral oneness with the Father, that unity is to be explained or no, the great truth to which these interpretations bear witness is the fundamental fact of Christianity—that of the incarnation. Its explication is relatively a matter of speculation; its reality is of prime importance.’
“Our fathers regarded man as created perfect in one human pair, who by wilful disobedience to a divine command corrupted and brought sentence of eternal death on the whole human race descended from them. Our fathers believed that Jesus Christ coming as God in a human form begotten through the power of the holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, by his sufferings and physical death inflicted on him by men, endured the equivalent of the punishment of sinners sentenced to eternal death, and delivered from it certain members of the race foreordained to be saved. We believe that Jesus Christ the son of God living, suffering, and dying as a man among men revealed the self-sacrificing love of God for his children, who include all mankind, and that this manifestation continued through the Spirit of God in and among men, is teaching sinners the nature of sin and the character of God, and is drawing all men unto him. …
“Our fathers believed that the New Testament revealed the divine plan and pattern of Christ’s Church on earth, and that it was Congregational in its organization. We believe that the Congregational order is best suited to the Christian development of the individual, to ‘intelligent discipleship, mutual responsibility, direct loyalty to Christ alone, full rounded Christian manhood.’ We hold, however, that whenever and wherever modifications of this order are found to be best suited to advance the Kingdom of Christ they should be adopted, and that the disciples of Christ of all denominations should work together as far as is practicable to show their unity in spirit and to bring his Kingdom to perfection. …
“Our fathers believed that men could be saved only by believing on Jesus before they died. The theological controversies of the last twenty-five years have resulted at least in toleration for Christians who express a reasonable hope that those who die without knowledge of Christ may not have closed their probation in this life. The tendency thus indicated has gone so far that some Congregationalists, who believe, as all Christians do, in the final triumph of righteousness over sin, hold also that it is not an unwarranted hope that this triumph may include the final redemption from sin of all the children of God.”
MINISTERIAL DISHONESTY RESPONSIBLE
We charge that this spiritual decline and loss of faith in the Bible is the result of dishonesty amongst the professed ministers of Christ. Many of them have
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for years been practicing most ignoble dishonesty—obtaining money and honor of men under false pretenses. Professing loyalty to the Bible and to the creeds they have betrayed both. Professing to build up believers in the most holy faith, as ministers of truth, servants of God, they have systematically put poison into the children’s bread which has destroyed the faith of many, and by reason of them the way of Truth has been evilly spoken against—discredited in the name of God, and backed by the education of these professed servants of God and the Church and the special confidence reposed in them as men separated from the world.
This is not too strong a charge. It is confessed from day to day, if we but learn to read between the lines, and sometimes on the lines, as in the following extract from the Homiletic Review, a prominent Christian magazine. It is discussing the case of Rev. Crapsey, D.D., an Episcopalian minister recently expelled from the pulpit of that denomination because he utterly denied every item of Christian faith—including our Lord’s prehuman existence, miraculous birth, etc. The Review says:
“What Dr. Crapsey does in an extreme degree without question nine out of every ten ministers in every Church requiring creed subscription also do in some degree. The principle on which Dr. Crapsey is to be unfrocked, impartially applied by those churches requiring creed subscription, would undo and unsettle their whole ministry. Nearly all of the creeds subscribed are of ancient date. They were framed as metaphysical and logical statements, frequently to meet the heresies of the age that produced them. It would be quite generally regarded as proof of intellectual disease if a man living today should affirm his belief verbatim et literatim in the ancient symbols. Yet they are ‘subscribed’ by a very great number of ministers. In view of this fact it is a matter of importance to ascertain in what sense and to what extent creed subscription is binding.”
* * *
Here it is plainly stated: Dr. Crapsey’s perfidy in
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professing to believe and teach what he does not believe and teach is excusable in the eyes of the “nine out of every ten ministers in every Church requiring creed subscription also do in some degree.” It is because such falsification has become so common amongst professed servants of the Truth that some men of conscience feel justified in doing the same. Is there any other class of professional men or business men of whom it can be said (in their defense) that nine out of ten of them perpetually live a lie? We hope not.
Just as Christian Scientists permit their minds by continually misrepresenting facts until their sense of truth on every subject seems to be perverted, so that argument, facts and logic are alike wasted on them, so it is with the “nine out of ten” Christian ministers, who habitually prostitute the Truth for name and station and salary. Bible testimony, quotations of the apostles, no longer have the weight of Truth in their minds because of their long subordination to policy, their so-long continued sacrifice of Truth.
We believe that without a love for Truth none will be favored with the light of “Present Truth.” More than this, we hold that if sincere love for Truth—honesty of thought and deed—be yielded, sacrificed to pride, ambition, vain-glory, or any other thing, the result will be the loss of Present Truth. Let us ever keep in memory our Lord’s message through the Apostle, that now in the end of this age he will send strong delusion that all may believe a lie who have pleasure in untruth—who received not the Truth in the love of it. (2 Thess. 2:10-12.) Let us guard our consciences, realizing that their perversion would surely work our injury, our alienation from the Lord, and our rejection from his service now and hereafter.
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BEREAN BIBLE STUDY ON LOVE
—SEE COMMENTS IN OUR JULY 1 ISSUE—
What is the importance of loving zeal and how may we cultivate it? Z.’98-112 (1st col. par. 1); Z.’03-165 (2nd col. par. 1, 2); Z.’01-151 (2nd col. par. 1); Z.’01-318 (1st col. par. 1); Z.’96-163 (2nd col. par. 1, last half.
How may we cultivate loving submission? Z.’96-44 (2nd col. par. 2, 3); Z.’99-6 (1st col. par. 1 to 3); Z.’02-249 (2nd col. par. 1).
Must perfect love include sinners and also our enemies? and how may we determine that it is the sin we hate and not the sinner? Luke 6:27,28; Z.’99-5 (2nd col. par. 3, 4); Z.’01-331 (2nd col. par. 2, 3); Manna, March 21.
What is the relation between love and justice? Z.’02-265, 266; Z.’04-56 (2nd col. par. 2, 3). Z.’02-171 (2nd col. par. 2); Z.’05-287 (2nd col. par. 2, 3).
What is the relation between love and benevolence? Z.’01-247 (1st col. par. 2, last sentence); Z.’01-253
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(1st col. par. 2, 3).
What is the relation between love and fear? I Jno. 4:18; Z.’98-112 (1st col. par. 4 and 2nd col.)
What is the relation between love and knowledge? I Cor. 8:1; E.260 (top of page); Z.’00-184 (1st col. par. 2, 3); Z.’03-42 (1st col. par. 3).
What is the best evidence of our acceptableness with the Lord? Z.’98-201 (1st col. par. 1); Z.’03-56 (1st col. par. 2).
How may we become copies of God’s dear Son? Z.’98-201 (2nd col. par. 2, 3); Z.’02-172 (1st col.).
How must we keep ourselves in the love of God? Jude 21; Z.’00-184 (2nd col. par. 1); Z.’02-173; Z.’05-139 (2nd col. par. 4); Z.’05-124 (2nd col. par. 4, 5).
How should we examine ourselves and overcome the unlovely spirit of criticism and harsh judgment? F.402 par. 2, to 409; Z.’00-73 (2nd col. par. 3); 74 (1st col. par. 1, 2 and 2nd col. par. 3); also 75 (1st col. par. 1); Z.’04-43 (2nd col. par. 5) to 43 (1st col. par. 2).
How must love deal with evil surmisings? Z.’05-213 (1st col. par. “III” to 2nd col. par. “IV”).
How shall we fulfil the command, “Love one another”? Z.’99-88 (1st col. par. 3 to 2nd col. par. 2); Z.’03-121 (1st col. par. 2); Z.’98-201 (1st col. par. 2 and 2nd col. par. 1); Z.’05-125 (2nd col. par. 2); Z.’05-297 (1st col. par. 1, 2). And what proprieties should be observed by the New Creation in this respect? F.489 par. 2, to 490.
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“THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE”
—LUKE 18:35-19:10—SEPTEMBER 2—
Golden Text:—”The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”
OUR GOLDEN TEXT briefly and concisely sets forth our Lord’s mission. To those who learn to read it aright it tells of a world of mankind, the entire race of Adam, lost in sin and its penalty, death—lost without hope of ability to recover itself, without hope that any member of the race could ever redeem it or give to God a ransom for his brother. (Psa. 49:7.) This text sets forth the remedy, the only remedy provided by the Son of man. “He who was rich for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich”—he left the heavenly condition and humbled himself to human nature that “he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (2 Cor. 8:9; Heb. 2:9.) To appreciate the meaning of the word “lost” in this connection helps us to appreciate the meaning of the word “saved.” As man was lost in sin, lost in death, so he is to be recovered from sin, recovered from death.
Salvation then, in God’s arrangement, means recovery from sin and its penalty death, and from all its concomitants of sorrow and pain, imperfection and dying. How reasonable, how sensible, is this Scriptural proposition! How well it is backed up by the Apostle’s statement that the
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salvation to be brought to mankind at the second coming of Jesus will be a recovery or restitution of all that was lost, during the “times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21.) While this salvation belongs specifically to the coming age, the Millennium, nevertheless to some the Lord is granting a beginning of salvation in the present time—to those whose eyes and ears of understanding and hearts of appreciation are open to the messages of divine grace, whispered at the present time under adverse conditions, but by and by to be so sounded abroad that every ear shall hear.
BLIND BARTIMEUS’ FAITH
Jesus was en route for Jerusalem by way of Jericho. The Feast of Passover was approaching, and the roads leading to Jerusalem had many travellers, who usually went in companies or in groups. With our Lord and his apostles was a considerable number of friends, together with numerous Pharisees headed toward Jericho. By the wayside sat a blind man, Bartimeus, hoping to excite the sympathy of the passers-by, for he was a beggar. In those days there was no special provision for the blind, and there were many of them in those parts.
Although numerous groups had passed, something especially attracted the attention of Bartimeus to this group as an extraordinary one, and he inquired who or what so large a company might represent. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, and that the commotion, the multitude, represented those who were in his company. Many evidently preceded Jesus, so that the blind man began to cry for mercy and help before the Lord got to him. Those in the forefront rebuked him and told him to stop his shouting, intimating that the great Teacher should not be interrupted by a wayside beggar. But the man had evidently heard of Jesus before—possibly had heard of other blind men healed by him. In any event he was seized with a conviction that this prophet of Nazareth was able to grant him relief, that he was probably the true Messiah, the Son of God. Hence he shouted the more vociferously, “Thou Son of David [Messiah], have mercy on me!”
The procession stopped, and Jesus commanded that the man be brought to him. He did not shout for him to come, but commanded, “Let him be brought.” Mark (10:46) tells us that those who brought the blind man said to him, “Be of good cheer, rise; he calleth thee,” and also tells us that
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he immediately cast away his cloak or mantle in his haste to respond. When led to Jesus the latter asked him, “What wilt thou that I should do for thee?” He responded, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” The Lord answered, “Receive thy sight; thy faith hath saved thee.”
There were many blind men throughout Palestine, yet only comparatively few received such a blessing. Why? Undoubtedly because few had the requisite faith. Note in the case of Bartimeus, the evidence of his faith as soon as he heard, the persistency which belongs to true faith; and note also the evidence that he was of sincere heart, as demonstrated by the fact that after he had received his sight he followed the Lord, glorifying God. He might on the contrary have said to himself, “Yes, I have heard a good deal about modern salves and about a prophet who could speak the word and restore the sight, but in my opinion all these are deceptions. In any case they are not for me. I suppose if I were rich and influential this Prophet of Nazareth would be pleased to heal me if he thought I would give him a good fee, or if some of my relatives were able to pay him well. No, I have given up all hope. Israel has been looking for a long time for the Messiah, anyway. It is not at all probable that he will come in my day, that he will pass by just where I am sitting, and that it would be any use for me to cry out for mercy to him.” Had the blind man thus reasoned, without faith, undoubtedly the procession would have passed him by and he would have remained blind.
EYES OF UNDERSTANDING BLINDED
That physical blindness is a terrible affliction none will question. But how much more serious is the mental and spiritual blindness which prevails. The Scriptures tell us that the whole world, except the few who are true believers in the Lord Jesus, are all blind—”The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.” (2 Cor. 4:4.) The blinded ones are cut off by false doctrines from ability to see the grandeur of the divine character and plan for human salvation. There are various degrees of this mental and spiritual blindness: some can see nothing, others can see a little, vaguely, dimly. Some can look at the sun, moon and stars and see nothing in them beyond what they call nature—a federation of matter without intelligent direction. The Prophet has declared that “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard,” by some; but, alas, how many there are who hear not, see not, these things, who realize not the divine supervision of all of life’s affairs.
Lacking of faith in a gracious, just and loving God of wisdom and power, these blind and deaf ones are unprepared for the messages of his love and grace as they are given to us in his Word. To some of them it seems foolishness to think of a personal Creator at all: to others it seems foolish to think that one so great as to be able to create the worlds would pay particular attention to the interests of the individual members of our race. They are blind and cannot see afar off—they can merely see the affairs of the present life, with its eating and drinking, planting and building, laughing and crying, living and dying. They know not if there is anything else or what it is. Others with a little opening of the eyes of understanding can realize that there is a personal God and that he takes a personal interest; and these in turn are blinded by the Adversary’s misrepresentations of the divine Word, which give false impressions respecting the divine character and plan. These are blinded by the traditions of the elders from the “dark ages” respecting the divine purpose—that it is merely to elect a few and to turn the great majority into a place of eternal torment. Alas for such blindness! How we long for the time promised by the Lord through the Prophet, when all shall know him, from the least to the greatest—when all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped.
BARTIMEUS’ EXPERIENCES ILLUSTRATIVE
The incident before us in this lesson serves well to illustrate how some who at the present time belong to the blind class are brought to the Lord and graciously receive the opening of the eyes of their understanding. In the
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Lord’s providence they hear that Jesus of Nazareth passes by; in the Lord’s providence they have heard something respecting the great Teacher and the eternal life and the opening of blind eyes which he effects. They seize the opportunity, they lay hold upon the Lord by faith, they cry to him,—”Have mercy upon me, thou Son of David.” The thought is suggested to them that there are many more worthy than themselves to have the Master’s attention, that they are too insignificant, too sinful for him to recognize. But faith holds on. They have heard of his mercy toward others and they cry unto him so much the more, until finally he bids them come, and “whosoever cometh unto him he will in no wise cast out.”—John 6:37.
All who now come unto the Lord by faith encounter some experiences of opposition which correspond in considerable degree to those of Bartimeus. Generally they are without encouragement until they realize their need and cry to the Lord. Even these now find assistance from those who delight to assist them, saying, “Be of good cheer, rise; he calleth thee.”
Then comes the Master’s question, “What wilt thou?” And well it is for those who, like Bartimeus, can say, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Such do receive enlightenment from the Lord, an enlightenment by which they can see him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and through whom they may come to a knowledge of the Father, whom to know is life eternal.—John 17:3.
But, alas, many today when asked this question, “What wilt thou?” request riches or honors of men or temporal blessings of some sort, appreciating not their great need of spiritual necessities. Even those of us who have enjoyed considerable blessing in the way of the opening of our eyes to see the divine character and plan need to remember how the Apostle prayed for the Church, “that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.”—Eph. 1:18,19.
WHEN THE PEOPLE SAW IT
When the multitude saw that the blind man had received his sight and had become a follower of Jesus and was giving glory to God they also joined in praise—all who beheld. So it is today with us. As one after another come to a knowledge of the divine character and plan, all who are in accord with the Lord are not only ready to assist them to the Lord, but ready also to join in praise on their behalf, rejoicing in their blessing. The great mass of the world, however, who see not, who appreciate not, this miracle of change from blindness to spiritual sight and understanding, cannot now join in praise and thanks to God. We are glad, however, that the time is coming when the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, when every creature in heaven and in earth shall be heard saying “Praise and honor and dominion and glory and power be unto him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb.”—Isa. 11:9; Phil. 2:11; Rev. 5:13.
Our lesson gives a second illustration of how the Son of man is able to save all that come unto him through faith. The Lord and his company had passed through Jericho on toward Jerusalem. The whole city evidently was stirred with the knowledge that the great Prophet of Nazareth was en route for Jerusalem. Zaccheus was apparently one of its prominent and wealthy citizens, a publican. The word “publican” today is in some places the name applied to bar-keepers, liquor-dealers, but in our Lord’s time it indicated a collector of taxes for the Roman government. The Israelites demurred against being taxed by the Romans, claiming that they were the Kingdom of God, and that the Roman nation and all nations should rather pay taxes to them. The prejudice on the subject was so strong that the more reputable class of Jews would not accept the office. Besides this, the methods of collecting the taxes were frequently along the lines of extortion, as indeed is said to be still the method of collecting taxes in oriental lands.
Consequently to be a publican came to signify an irreligious, unpatriotic, unscrupulous character. The Pharisees disesteemed these as sinners, as no longer Jews nor heirs of the Covenant promises. The publicans recognized themselves as of the sinner caste, and sometimes in the Temple, if they went there to pray, heard the more religious give thanks to God that they were not publicans—that they had not lost all their manhood and religion and patriotism.
Zaccheus was one of the chief publicans, a prominent one amongst them, and rich. Yet apparently his heart was ill at ease. Although he had found his occupation a lucrative one he was not satisfied. Not that he would admit that his riches were all gained by dishonesty, but he realized that some of them were not honestly and honorably obtained. This would probably be true of the majority of rich people. As he heard of the Kingdom of God and the Prophet of Nazareth and his work of miracles, his heart was longing for relationship with God—he wanted to at least see this Prophet. Short of stature, the crowd being large, he had poor opportunity, but he ran ahead of the procession
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and climbed into a sycamore tree, and, seated on one of its branches over the road, he got a good view of Jesus as he passed by him.
Similarly today to some come longing desires for righteousness, harmony with God and fellowship with the Lord Jesus, and the prospect of eternal life in the Kingdom. How much depends upon the way they entertain this thought! They can turn it aside and say, “It is no use for me to think of reconciliation with the Father and a life of harmony with him; it is no use for me to try to turn over a new leaf. My business is built upon a disreputable foundation; I have already acquired a reputation for dishonesty, which I could never shake off. The new life which this great Teacher Jesus proclaims is no doubt grand for those who can accept it, but I am not one of them.” Had Zaccheus followed such suggestions and inclinations he would perhaps have gone in another direction instead of wishing to see more of the Lord.
It is a hopeful sign when we find any desiring to have clearer views of the Lord or his Word or his plan. We would exhort all such to go ahead and climb a sycamore tree and get a good view of matters; peradventure to them, as to Zaccheus, the Lord might speak some word of comfort and encouragement. Let such remember that, if honest
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hearted and earnest of purpose, some of their natural disadvantages may under the Lord’s providence work out for them a blessing, even as Zaccheus found that his smallness of stature brought him more particularly to the Lord’s attention than otherwise. But his zeal was necessary, as well as his manifestation of interest and faith.
“SALVATION COME TO THY HOUSE”
We can imagine Zaccheus lying on a limb of a sycamore tree, looking down upon the Lord, studying the lines of his countenance, wondering whether or not this were the very Christ, and feeling despair in his own heart as he realized his own imperfection and impurity as contrasted with the Master’s character, which shone forth in his countenance, speaking purity, gentleness, meekness, patience, love. How surprised he must have been when the Master stopped and looked directly into his eyes and, calling his name, said, “Zaccheus, come down, for I must dine today at thy house.” We have here evidences of the Lord’s knowledge of what is in man, that he reads the heart and makes no mistakes. Zaccheus was indeed glad to receive him and hasted to come down and to take him to his home. Doubtless there were others in that vicinity not only more highly esteemed amongst men but of still grander and nobler character than Zaccheus, but he had the longing heart, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. To him the blessing came; he should be filled.
What a wonderful opportunity it was to have the Master come to his home! What an honor, what an opportunity for hearing some precious words, instructions, guidance, encouragement! Not all the conversation of that dinner-table is recorded, but sufficient is told to teach the lesson. Whatever the Lord said to him, Zaccheus there made a full surrender of his heart—that henceforth he would not only forsake sin and evil customs and practices, but that so far as possible he would make restitution for wrong doing and injustice. This is of great importance in the Lord’s sight. It is in vain that we attempt to make use of God’s grace forgiving our sins while we would hold on to money or property obtained from our neighbors by some dishonest practices. Zaccheus gave evidence of a sound conversion when he declared, “If I have wrongly exacted aught from any man, I restore fourfold”—not” I have restored fourfold,” but “I will restore fourfold.” The intimation here given is that Zaccheus was more than ordinarily upright as a publican, otherwise to have restored fourfold would of itself have ruined a large fortune. On the contrary, Zaccheus consecrated one-half of all his possessions to the poor, and out of what remained he would make good fourfold, four times as much, for all that he had taken unjustly from others, and still he hoped a reasonable competence would be left.
We believe that many today make a great mistake in that they do not more fully follow the course of Zaccheus—in that they continue to hold on to something which really, rightfully, belongs to another; and secondly, that they do not consecrate more of their wealth of money or property or time or talents to the Lord. Zaccheus was a Jew, and under the requirements of the Law one-tenth of his yearly increase would be his obligation to religious matters. But he far exceeded this, giving not merely a half of his annual income, but a half of all the principal, of all the money and property and goods which he possessed. Some have inquired of us, What is the reasonable obligation of a Christian? We answer that our reasonable service should surely be more than the one-tenth of the Jews. To our understanding Zaccheus did not even go the full length of a complete sacrifice. The hymn expresses our sentiments:—
“All my little life I give thee,
Use it, Lord, in ways of thine.”
However, Zaccheus publicly, practically, did this very thing, the difference being that we who live this side of Pentecost, and who consecrate all to the Lord, are in turn by him made stewards to use that all according to our enlightenment day by day in his service.
This question should be settled promptly by all who would grow in grace, in knowledge, in love and character-likeness of our Lord—Have I forsaken sin, and the ways of sin and dishonesty? Have I made ample restitution so far as possible for every injury done to fellow creatures? What have I sacrificed, half of my goods or all of my goods to the Lord and his cause? If as a Christian I have sacrificed all, how am I keeping that engagement, that covenant, that sacrifice? Am I remembering that time and talent and influence as well as money belong to him and are my reasonable service? Am I spending and being spent day by day or not? How will it stand with me when the Master reckons with his people? Will I have joy in rendering my account, or will I with sorrow be obliged to admit that as a steward I have been unfaithful, and have buried my talents in earthly aims and objects and ambitions and services, or will I be able to present to the Lord fruits of my labor and sacrifice, and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord”?
“THEY SHALL BE MINE”
Let us remember the words of the Lord through the Prophet, “Gather together my saints unto me; those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psa. 50:5), “They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels.”—Mal. 3:17.
Some of those of the multitude who had rejoiced with the blind beggar were greatly disappointed when they found Jesus affiliating with an acknowledged publican. The difficulty was that they had misconceptions and had not yet come to see that the Lord looketh upon the heart, and that in the Lord’s sight this humble and grateful publican was nearer to the Kingdom than themselves. Jesus’ words to them were, “This day is salvation come to this house.” Zaccheus also is a son of Abraham. “The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” Salvation came to his house—not in the complete sense, for that, as the Apostle says, is to be brought unto us at the revelation, the second coming of our Lord and Savior. But salvation came to him in the sense that his heart was turned from sin and selfishness toward God and righteousness. Zaccheus that day, under the Lord’s favor and blessing and instruction, and his own cooperation in the same, in the turning over of a new leaf and becoming a follower of the teachings of Jesus, was saved in a reckoned sense—in the sense that he no longer
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loved the ways of sin, but now loved the ways of righteousness—in the sense that he was no longer walking after the things of the flesh, but now was walking after the things of the Spirit, the things of God, the things of righteousness, the things of truth, the things most pleasing to the Master, in his footsteps.
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COMING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
—MATT. 21:1-17—SEPTEMBER 9—
Golden Text:—”Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”
IN our last lesson Jesus and his disciples, with others, were on the way to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. They had already passed through Jericho. En route Jesus gave the parable of the talents; and Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, was reached Friday night, just a week before his crucifixion. He rested with his friends on the Sabbath, partook of the feast prepared in his honor that evening, received the anointing of the costly spikenard from Mary, and next morning, the first day of the week, continued his journey to Jerusalem. Throughout the week, however, he made Bethany his home, going daily to the city, returning at night. Bethany was about two miles distant from the Temple. Here the present lesson begins.
With the Lord were a considerable number of people who had come up to Jerusalem in his company, and some who had come out from Jerusalem to Bethany to see him, because they had heard that the Prophet of Nazareth who had raised Lazarus from the dead was at the home of the latter. When this multitude reached Bethphage, a little village on the Mount of Olives, Jesus stopped and sent two of his disciples to another village close by to bring to him an ass and her foal. The owner of the animals may have been acquainted with Jesus, and if so would also have been acquainted with his disciples. At all events his request was honored, and Mark tells us, according to the revised version, that they promised that Jesus would send back the colt to the owner. Evidently it was unusual for our Lord to ride, and, although he came and went a longer distance every morning and evening throughout the week, this was the only occasion we have any knowledge of his riding. Evidently the reason for riding at this time was not weariness. He was about to present himself to the people after the manner of their kings of the past, who we are told rode in triumph on white asses.
THE OBJECT AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RIDE
A prominent writer on this lesson seems to present a very wrong view of our Lord’s course and program, saying: “Jesus now for three days made his final attempts to persuade the Jewish nation to accept him as the Messiah and thus save themselves from destruction, and become a great power for bringing in the Kingdom of heaven among men. He uses every possible means, in a great variety of ways, for accomplishing his purpose. He presents himself to them as a king. He shows his royal authority by cleansing the temple, his Father’s house. He performs royal deeds of power and of mercy in healing the sick. He argues, he discourses, he pleads, he teaches, he answers objections, he threatens, he warns.”
To the very contrary of all this, we find that our Lord here studiously avoided arousing the people, lest they should “take him by force to make him a king.” (John 6:15.) He taught the people in parables and dark sayings, which he did not explain except privately to his disciples, saying, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God: but unto them that are without all these things are spoken in parables: that seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear and not understand.” (Mark 4:11,12.) Just a few days before this our Lord had expressly told his disciples that he would be set at naught by the rulers of the nation and would be crucified and rise again the third day. They had at least partially understood this matter, for they endeavored to dissuade him from such a view, and he had explained to them that his Kingdom was to be a heavenly one, “in the regeneration” times, when they should sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Our Lord knew that he would be rejected, and before he entered the city, viewing it, he wept over it and said, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” He evidently had not the slightest intention of alluring the people to his support and for the establishment of an earthly Kingdom. We cannot doubt what a power he would have had if he had but spoken in defense of his own position. Even when he was accused before Pilate, the Roman governor marvelled that he offered no defense. All this was in harmony with the prophecy, which declared, “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.”
Jesus sought to influence only those Jews who were “Israelites indeed,” in whom there was no guile; and he understood the Father’s plan to be that his message, as directed under the leadings of providence, would attract this class—and he did not wish for others. It was not the Father’s will, as he declared. The remainder of that nation, aside from the “Israelites indeed,” the holy ones, according to the divine plan and arrangement, would reject our Lord, crucify him and be blinded for more than eighteen centuries until, at the time of his second advent, their eyes of understanding would be opened and they would “look upon him whom they have pierced and mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him as one is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zech. 12:10.) Meantime the Lord’s favor during this Gospel age, as intended, would pass throughout the world, making disciples of the pure in heart, a zealous class of various nations, peoples, kindreds, tongues, for the purpose of selecting joint-heirs in the heavenly Kingdom, which was not intended to be established as an earthly Kingdom nor a heavenly one until God’s due time—at the second coming of our Lord.
THE FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY
Two prophecies combine in the testimony here recorded: “Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold your King cometh unto thee, meek and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the
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foal of an ass.” (Compare Isa. 62:11; Zech. 9:9.) It was in fulfilment of the prediction that Jesus rode upon the ass. The Jews were familiar with this prophecy, and for long centuries had been waiting for Messiah to fulfil it. It was necessary, according to the divine program, that our Lord should literally, actually, do what the prophets had foretold, that Israel might be without excuse in their rejection of him: so that in the future, when their blindness shall be turned away, when the eyes of their understanding shall be opened, when they shall look upon him whom they have pierced and mourn for their rejection of him, they will find themselves without excuse, they will realize that the Lord had performed unto them as his covenant people all his good promises, and that the fault of their rejection was entirely of themselves; that they were not in the condition of heart to receive their King; that whereas he was meek and lowly of heart they were proud and boastful; whereas he was pure and unselfish, they were impure and self-seeking and not fit for the Kingdom. In a word, God did for natural Israel everything that he had purposed and promised, and certified thereby that the fault was entirely theirs.
The multitudes accompanying the Lord seemed to catch the spirit of the occasion, and while they shouted “Hosanna to the son of David,” the Messiah, they made him a royal pathway for his beast, some spreading their garments, others getting branches of trees. It had been a custom
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amongst various peoples for long centuries to thus treat their honored rulers. In countries where flowers abounded these were used, in others the branches of trees, and in some instances the garments of their admirers and loyal subjects were thus used. We cannot suppose that all of this multitude were saints, though doubtless many of them outside of the apostles were sympathizers with Jesus. That it was not the apostles themselves who instigated and carried on this proceeding is shown by the fact, narrated by another evangelist, that certain Scribes and Pharisees in the multitude came to the disciples and suggested that they call the attention of the Lord to the matter, pointing out to him the impropriety of such proceedings.
The modesty of our Lord in respect to his Messiahship is noteworthy. Not on a single occasion we know of did he announce himself as Messiah. His highest claim at any time was that he was the Son of God, a claim and title permissible to any of his true disciples throughout the Gospel age since Pentecost. In every instance his honor as Messiah was mentioned by others and simply not disputed by the Lord. For instance, on the first occasion when Jesus inquired of his disciples, “Whom say men that I am?” and later, “Whom say ye that I am?” when Peter, speaking for them, replied, “Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus indicated his assent by the words, “Blessed art thou, Simon-Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Now it was the multitude that heralded him the son of David, the Messiah, and he merely held his peace—only when others objected did he declare that the shouting was necessary to the fulfilment of the prophecy which declared that there should be a shout, saying, “Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation: lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” The third place where his Messiahship was referred to was before Pilate, who asked him, “Art thou a king then?” He answered, “To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”
“HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST”
Had this procession and the shoutings of kingly honor to our Savior any meaning outside of being a testimony to the Jewish nation—a presentation to them of their King—to be accepted or rejected? They had no other meaning at the time, but indirectly they have a lesson for us spiritual Israelites at the end of this age; because we find that the divine arrangement is such that the history of natural Israel, from the death of Jacob down to this event, was typical of spiritual Israel’s experiences from the death of Jesus down to his coming in glory, presenting himself to his people. The declaration of the prophets is that he must offer himself to “both the houses of Israel”—the fleshly house and the spiritual house. As in the fleshly house there were true and untrue Israelites, so also in the spiritual house of this Gospel age, “Christendom,” there are both true and untrue Israelites, professedly waiting for Messiah and his Kingdom.
Natural Israel waited 1845 years for the Lord to come as their King, to establish righteousness in the earth, and to use them as his channel for blessing to all mankind according to the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant. When Messiah came they were unready to receive him and unfit to be his co-laborers—except the few Israelites indeed whom he gathered out of that nation and constituted the nucleus of the new nation. When the Jewish nation, natural Israel, were cast off, rejected, the Lord began the selection of spiritual Israel out of all the nations as he had foreseen and foretold. Nominal spiritual Israel waited a similar period of time, 1845 years, from the death of Jesus to the time when he was due to present himself as King.
A host of Scriptures unite in the testimony that our Redeemer presented himself to spiritual Israel at the date corresponding to this triumphal entry into Jerusalem and presentation to natural Israel, viz., in 1878 A.D. (for prophetic testimony on the subject see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vols. II. and III.) At that date also we believe nominal spiritual Israel—Churchianity, “Babylon”—was rejected after the same manner that the Jewish nation was rejected. True, Christendom does not realize this rejection,—neither did natural Israel realize its rejection and that its house was left desolate, left to go to destruction. As the 37 years following our Lord’s rejection of natural Israel brought them to the utter destruction of their city and polity, so we anticipate that 37 years from 1878 will bring “Christendom” to its destruction in the great time of trouble predicted in the prophecy.
CLEANSING THE TEMPLE
We are still in the time when spiritual Israelites are deciding for or against Messiah—accepting him as their present Lord and King, or rejecting him; shouting in their hearts “Hosanna to the son of David, who cometh in the name of the Lord,” or, on the other hand, amongst those who become embittered as they hear the message. Those who receive him will surely have an antitype of the blessed experiences which came to the Lord’s true people at Pentecost. The
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antitype will be immensely greater and grander than the type, nothing short of full change from the corruptible to incorruptible conditions in the First Resurrection. The others, unready of heart to receive the Lord and the blessings, will have their share in the great time of trouble with which this age will terminate and which will prepare mankind in general for the glorious Millennial reign of righteousness promptly to be ushered in.
As soon as Jesus had sentenced the Jewish nation to destruction saying, “Your house is left unto you desolate: ye shall see me no more until that day when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,” he ceased all efforts in connection with that nation—their trial was ended as a nation, but still he sought the individuals who were of the proper condition of heart. He proceeded to the Temple and cleansed it of its merchants and money changers, driving them out with a scourge of cords. He was backed by the authority which belonged to any Jew in any station of life, but was additionally backed by his own kingly presence and the multitude which thronged about him, which would have been ready to support him with physical force: all this of course aside from his heavenly power.
THE ANTITYPICAL TEMPLE CLEANSING
To our understanding the chief force of this feature was its typical one—illustrative of a great truth now applicable to spiritual Israel. The Temple built by Herod was only the type. The true Temple is the Church of the living God. This Church Temple may be considered from two standpoints: (1) The Church of glory in the future, of which the Lord’s faithful ones of the present time are the living stones, now being chiseled, prepared. (2) The Church in its present condition of humiliation, imperfection, more properly the tabernacle in which the Lord dwells. As there were strict regulations governing the worship and worshipers in the types, so there are positive regulations in God’s Word for those who constitute the priests and Levites doing the services of the tabernacle in the present time, preparatory to the establishment of the glorious Temple of the future.
The Scriptures clearly indicate that in the end of this Gospel age God purposes a cleansing of his sanctuary, his temple—Christendom. There will be nothing in or connected with the Temple in glory that will need to be cleansed, nothing impure, nothing that defileth will enter therein; but the Temple, the Church of the present time, stipulated to be composed merely, solely, of the consecrated believers, has become a mixed multitude, so that under the name of Christian and Church are many persons and parties thoroughly unchristian, connected with the things of this world on a purely selfish basis. The Lord proposes a cleansing of this sanctuary, as testified through the Prophet Daniel—unto 2300 days [years], then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. That was merely a typical cleansing which our Lord accomplished in the typical Temple; the antitypical cleansing is the one of real importance and we are living now in this time of cleansing. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., Chap. IV.)
The type gives us a suggestion respecting the character of the cleansing, that it mainly affects those who make merchandise of holy things—those who are associated with the Lord’s work for selfish reasons, because “their bread is buttered on that side,” because they can have more honor of men, more of the advantages and comforts of life, and better business prospects by reason of their identification with Churchianity. All of this class must be driven out: the Lord himself will see to the work. The Lord’s house is not to be a house of merchandise. The Lord seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth, and not those who seek the loaves and fishes or any earthly advantage. He will therefore present the truth in such a form that it will be a blessing to the proper class, and separate all of the improper class by a measure of odium in connection with the King and his faithful. At the present time the Lord, the Truth, with a whip of small cords, is injurious only to those who are in the Temple for purposes of merchandise, and not injurious to others. There are money changers today in the nominal Temple who are robbing the people by accepting salaries for that which is not food, who, while professing to teach the way of the Lord and receiving honor
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of men and other emoluments, are really misrepresenting the Lord and his Truth. All such will be separated from the true Temple class, all such will be angry with the Master and his followers, as were the merchants and money-changers in the typical Temple, and they will have their sympathizers also, as they did.
THE TEMPLE A DEN OF THIEVES
Thieving, robbery, is usually done secretly, deceptively. The thief usually represents himself as the very reverse. He poses as an honorable man; but slyly, under cover, he secures to himself that which is not properly his. Is not this the case with very many professedly Christian ministers and teachers and elders in various quarters of Churchianity? Are there not many who pose as ministers of the cross of Christ and of the Word of God who deny the Word of God and to whom the cross of Christ is foolishness? Of this class are those who tell us that they are Evolutionists; that instead of man falling from God’s likeness and needing to be redeemed by the blood of the cross and needing the second coming of the Lord to restore him, the very reverse is their conception of truth, viz., that if man has fallen at all he has fallen upward, that he has no need to be redeemed, and that to look for the second coming of the Lord for the salvation of the world is foolishness. Are not these men receiving money under false pretenses? and is not such a system of thievery the very worst kind in the world? Is not this an open robbery? Do they not rob God in that they detract from his honor? and do they not rob the people in that they take from them money and honors, etc., while deceiving them, selling them that which is not bread, which satisfieth not?
The Father’s house, his Church, should be composed solely of those who worship him in spirit and in truth. It is meet, it is proper, that all others should be cast out, and the Lord will see to this now because the due time for it has come. The sanctuary shall be cleansed; then in due time the glory of the Lord will fill it—the Royal Priesthood will be changed and become the Temple of glory, honor, dominion and power, from which will proceed the blessing of the world of mankind.
The people in general were thoroughly aroused by the triumphal entry and then the scourging of the money-changers.
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To the inquiry, Who is this? came the answer, “This is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” The news spread, and the poor and the lame of the city began to flock to the temple. Doubtless they had heard before about this great Prophet, and many of them found this their opportunity for receiving a blessing at his hands. So it will be in the future, when the spiritual Temple will have been fully cleansed, and the Lord of the Temple will be in it in power and great glory, the healing and blessing of all the families of the earth will be in order and will be accomplished—all who will may then be blessed.
The shoutings of the multitude on the way had doubtless ceased, yet the children in the Temple had apparently taken it up, and doubtless without any particular meaning were singing over and over, “Hosanna, hosanna, to the son of David.” This illustrated how by and by the praises of the Lord shall fill his Temple, and the Pharisees who heard the children were annoyed by it. We may presume that they endeavored to stop them unsuccessfully, and then appealed to the Master, as the one whose authority would be recognized, to rebuke them; but he answered them this was fulfilling prophecy again, as it is written, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.” What the more highly favored and intelligent of natural Israel did not appreciate and failed to proffer the Lord caused to be accomplished even at the mouths of babes. Indeed, everywhere we find that earthly wisdom is apt to misinterpret divine purposes. Very frequently, therefore, the Lord makes use of the weak, the poor, the ignorant, instead. Let us, dear brethren, whatever our opportunities and talents, seek to be as little children, not guided by worldly wisdom merely but “taught of God,” that we may now in the proper form herald our Master the Messiah, and in every sense of the word cooperate with him in his work and be accounted worthy as faithful ones to be associated also in the glory of the Kingdom.
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TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY
—MARK 12:13-27—SEPTEMBER 16—
Golden Text:—”Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
TODAY’S lesson considers the events of the last day of our Lord’s public ministry. As already noted, he rested at Bethany over the Sabbath and participated in a feast to his honor that (Jewish) Sabbath eve. The next day, the first day of the week—Sunday—he rode on the ass, making a triumphal entry into the city of the great King. Mark informs us that he visited the Temple on that occasion, looking about on the condition of things, and that it was the next day, Monday, that he drove out the money-changers, etc. Now we come to the day following, Tuesday, the last day of his public teaching. Note the record thus: John 12:1 informs us that the Feast at Bethany was “six days before the Passover”—Sabbath; Mark 11:1 records the events of the next day, Sunday; Mark 11:2-19 relates the events of Monday; Mark 14:1 shows that Wednesday and Thursday intervened before the Passover Feast began.
PERPLEXITY OF THE JEWISH RULERS
The leading men of all the various sects and parties were in perplexity how to deal with Jesus. They believed him to be an impostor, because his claims seemed to them to be absurd, contrary to all worldly wisdom, the only kind which they possessed. True, they recognized that he was a brilliant man, that he had great force and power with the common people. But they said to themselves, “Although he does not publicly claim to be the Messiah he nevertheless gives that intimation—promising his disciples participation with him in the Kingdom when he shall be exalted to power—and is leading the people to believe that by and by the long-expected Kingdom of God will be established. He is making headway, his miracles being especially effective in supporting his claims; he is establishing thus a new sect, a new party, that will prove antagonistic to all present sects and parties, and diminish our influence with the people. Although we have differences of opinion on many subjects we are all striving together for the favor of the great Roman empire, under whose control we are now. We are seeking to have greater and greater liberties and privileges, and if this new party succeeds it will diminish our influence at Rome and appear to the emperor and senate like a rebellion. The Romans already have that opinion of us as a people, that we are rebellious, etc., and we have been endeavoring to allay that sentiment and establish confidence in the stability of our religious system and its power over our people. This new religious system, therefore, threatens not only the prosperity of our various denominations but also the prosperity of our nation. Jesus should be killed for the good of the cause: as patriots we owe it to ourselves and to the whole nation and its future welfare.”
We are informed that they sought to kill him, and that privately they had determined this from the time of his calling Lazarus back from the tomb. His triumphal entry at the head of a multitude shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David,” increased their concern and their determination against him. His driving out of the money-changers, etc., from the Temple was a further manifestation of his consciousness of his power with the common people. Apparently there was only one way to get to him: the people evidently would not stand by quietly and see him injured. Whatever was to be done must be accomplished in a quiet and stealthy manner and quickly. Moreover, the people had a reverence for the Roman soldiers, and it would be desirable therefore to have him executed under Pilate’s decree. But how could they bring the matter before Pilate? What charges could they make? It was the people who had proclaimed him king and not himself. They must if possible get him to commit himself to some treasonable statement, on account of which they could bring him before Pilate as an enemy of the Roman
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empire, and thus have him legally executed in a manner which the public could not resist. The Romans permitted the Jews to govern themselves, merely stipulating for tribute and loyalty to Rome; and Pilate with his soldiers resided at Jerusalem, not to interfere with Jewish laws and customs, but merely to preserve the peace and the dignity of Rome.
AN ENTANGLING QUESTION
With a view to getting Jesus to commit himself as an opponent of the Roman Empire, two groups of Jews came to Jesus with a question. The Pharisees in a general way held that the Jews as the people of God were to be the rulers of all other peoples, and that they should never pay tribute, taxes, to other rulers. Their teachings on these lines, however, were privately given, for fear of being apprehended as traitors to
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Rome. The Herodians, on the contrary, were Jews who took sides with Herod, and stood firmly and boldly and publicly for the suzerainty of the Roman Empire, claiming that it was to the advantage of the people of Israel to be under the Roman power, and that the paying of tribute was right and proper. The common people were understood to specially favor the view held by the Pharisees and were opposed to the view of the Herodians. Representatives of these two classes, coming to Jesus in public where he was teaching and where the common people could hear the question and note the answer, hoped to get him to do one of two things: either declare with the Herodians that the tax was right and proper and thus break his influence with the common people, or publicly to side with the Pharisees and common people, denounce the tax tribute, declare it improper and contrary to the divine will, etc., and thus make declaration that under no conditions then prevailing could the instigation of insurrection amongst the Jews in opposition to the tribute tax be construed as traitorous.
Note the subtlety of the entire program: they addressed Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we know that thou art true and carest not for any one: for thou regardest not the person of man, but of a truth teachest the way of God.” Here all the stress was laid upon his courage to utter truth, to be faithful to God at any cost, to be a teacher of the people on whom they could thoroughly rely, fearing nothing for himself. All this was so stated in order that the Master in the presence of the multitude might be compelled to give a straightforward answer to the question they were about to put, and that answer they fully believed would be one that would convict him of treason. Then came the question: “Is it lawful [according to the Law of Moses] to give tribute unto Caesar or not?” Shall we give or shall we not give?
A HEAVENLY-WISE REPLY
Our Lord understood the situation in an instant and said, “Why tempt ye me?”—Why do you try to entrap me? Look at the motives in your own hearts and judge of how much sincerity or falsity is there. Get a lesson out of this matter that will do you good; show me the tribute coin. They handed him a silver penny or denarius of Tiberius Caesar, stamped with the likeness of Caesar and an inscription concerning him, just as coins of today in Europe bear the image and superscription of the reigning sovereign. Jesus inquired of his tormentors, “Whose image and superscription is this [on this coin]?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” Then he gave them the answer to their question, saying, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus did not go into the question of how much advantage the Jewish nation was reaping from the protection afforded the Jews against the assaults of other nations. He did not attempt to declare that justice was connected with every feature of the tribute tax, but he did sum up the matter in those few words, “If Caesar has some just claims against you, render to him accordingly—this will not interfere with God’s just claims against you, which you should be equally ready to meet.” This answer was not merely an evasion of the question: it was an answer in the full sense, probably far beyond what they could fully comprehend; but they did comprehend that they had failed to entrap him, that he had answered their question in a manner which would never have occurred to them, that he had a wisdom far beyond theirs and all natural earthly wisdom—he had the wisdom from above, first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy of entreatment, full of mercy and good fruits.—Jas. 3:17.
ADMONITION APPROPRIATE TO US
The Scriptural assurance that all things work together for good to them that love God is illustrated in this matter. The Pharisees, the Herodians, intended evil to the Lord and his apostles, their teachings, etc.—they designed their overthrow. But in the Lord’s providence the very reverse of this resulted. A lesson came to the common people who heard, a lesson which doubtless bore fruit in any who were in a right condition of heart; but the lesson was especially profitable, we are assured, to the apostles and to all of the Lord’s followers since. Its lesson is that we are not called upon to war with carnal weapons against the powers that be—that all the followers of the Lord Jesus are to seek peace and pursue it, endeavoring to do good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith, and to speak evil of and to do evil to none.
To the disciples this would imply that the affairs of the world may be safely left with the world, under the Lord’s supervision, for he is able to make even the wrath of men to praise him; the remainder he can restrain, and in due time all of his gracious purposes will be accomplished. (Psa. 76:10.) Until that due time shall come we are with patience to wait for it, knowing that in the end it will come and will not tarry. The Lord’s due time for the changes in the world’s affairs is what we are waiting on, and meantime we are occupying, using, our talents and opportunities, not in fighting worldly battles either by tongue or pen or with other earthly weapons, but fighting the good fight of faith, laying hold upon eternal life, whereunto we
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are called, that we may thus be prepared by the trials and difficulties and sacrifices of the present time for the glorious share in his Kingdom reign and blessing which the Lord has promised to us as his followers if we are faithful.
If Caesar commands taxes and they are general we are not to dispute them. When the Lord’s time shall come, when Caesar no longer shall collect taxes from the heirs of the Kingdom, it will be manifest to us, for then Caesar will have no power or authority to collect these. If Caesar merely gives us liberty to vote it is not at all necessary that we should accept or use that liberty; should he by and by command us to vote, it would be proper for us to comply and use our best judgment. But in the absence of any command or compulsion it would seem that those consecrated to be followers of the Lamb, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, would have plenty to do in following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth—in fulfilling the terms of their consecration as members of the body of Christ, in doing good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith.
WHAT WE RENDER TO GOD
What we shall render to God depends upon who we are and what we see and know respecting him and his will. The world in general realizes some responsibility to a Creator or First Cause, but their enlightenment being limited their responsibilities are correspondingly limited. Those who have seen and heard and tasted that God is gracious, that his favor has been manifested in the redemption price paid at Calvary, have greater privileges than their less enlightened neighbors and correspondingly greater responsibilities. To these it is but a reasonable service that they should present to the Lord the little all that they possess in this present life, and this becomes a still more reasonable matter when they learn that God has sent forth during this Gospel age a special message of invitation to joint-heirship with his Son in the Kingdom. Those who are thus enlightened and who possess any measure of wisdom should, it would seem, joyfully lay aside every weight and besetting sin and earthly ambition, and strive to attain to the gracious things of the divine promise to the seed of Abraham.—Gal. 3:29.
The Prophet, speaking for this class of holy favored ones of this Gospel age, the consecrated, inquires, What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits to us? What would be the proper course for such to pursue in their relationship to God? The Lord through the Prophet gives the correct answer, saying, “I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” (Psa. 116:12,13.) The cup of salvation, as our Master explains, has a two-fold significance: it implies that we all share with him in his cup of suffering, of self-denial, of self-abasement for the sake of the Lord’s cause in this time when sin abounds, when the prince of this world rules in the hearts of the majority, when darkness covers the earth, society, and gross darkness the heathen. We have the promise that those who drink of the Lord’s cup now will also drink of his cup of rejoicing and blessing and refreshment in the Kingdom.
In other words, in the divine order these two features are indissolubly joined, “If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him,” if we partake of the trials and difficulties and oppositions incidental to faithfulness to the Lord, we shall have a share with him in the glory, honor and immortality by and by; but if we refuse the cup of trial and discipline and experience and suffering of this present time we are thus also incidentally refusing and passing by the cup of glory and blessing of the Millennial age and of eternity. Let us take the cup, let us appropriate it, let us render unto the Lord our God our reasonable service—a full consecration of heart and life. And this appreciation of a reasonable service will doubtless continue to increase before the mental vision: as we go onward we will perceive greater privileges and opportunities of sacrifice, and as we measure up to these will get clearer and better and grander views of the coming glories, and also our heavenly rewards.
“WHOSE WIFE SHALL SHE BE?”
When the Pharisees and Herodians withdrew, discomfited by our Lord’s wise answer, representatives of another sect, the Sadducees, came with a question to entrap him. To appreciate their question we must understand
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that the Sadducees were a class of Jews well educated, intellectual, but utterly lacking in any faith respecting a future life. Whether or not they believed in a God, we are not informed, but that they did not believe in invisible angels or spirit beings of any kind, and that they denied that there would be a resurrection for mankind more than for the brute beast was clearly stated. These were worldly-wise men who believed that their countrymen were laboring under a foolish delusion in expecting any blessings in the future. They held that when a man dies that is the end of him. The Sadducees presented a question which they thought would show up the weakness of Jesus’ position before the people, and incidentally also the weakness of the theories of other Jews.
Their question was probably a suppositious one, though stated as a fact. They cited the Jewish Law respecting Jewish marriage stated in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The object of that law seemingly was to prevent the obliteration of any family. The suppositious case was that under this law one brother married and, dying without children, the second brother married his wife, and so on until the seven brethren had married the one woman, each in turn. Now the query was, Whose wife should she be in the resurrection, since she was the wife of the seven during her earthly life? The question was intended to show the absurdity of believing in a resurrection, that it would occasion all kinds of confusion, etc.
Our Lord’s answer was, Is not your difficulty, your error, this—that ye understand not the Scriptures nor the power of God? If you sufficiently appreciated the power of God you would know that he who is able to raise the dead is able also to order and direct all the
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incidental affairs connected with the resurrection of mankind. If you had a proper appreciation of God’s character you would have faith in him and would not stumble over such a trivial matter as this. Leave it with God. Let me explain, however, that when they shall rise from the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but will be like the angels in heaven, sexless. This was a new thought to them.
Our Lord did not attempt a particular answer to their question, knowing (1) that they were not sincere questioners, and that such an explanation would be like casting pearls before swine; (2) furthermore, it was not yet time to give an explanation of many of the details respecting the resurrection. Many of those details belong only to the spiritual, and could not be understood by any except those begotten of the Spirit, and the Spirit begetting could not come until Pentecost, and Pentecost could not come until after the Lord had paid our penalty with the sacrifice of himself and had ascended up on high and appeared in the presence of God on our behalf.
From our standpoint, however, we see that our Lord, without designating the resurrection of the Church or the resurrection of the world, stated the matter broadly in such a way as to apply to both. For instance, those who will constitute the Church, and who will be changed from earthly to heavenly nature in the First Resurrection—”changed in a moment”—will be Spirit beings like unto our Lord, and like unto the angels also in respect that they will be sexless. As for the world, which will not be changed from earthly to heavenly nature, and will not experience a resurrection change in a moment, but a gradual change or uplift, progressing step by step during the thousand years of the “times of restitution,” it will also be true that when they shall have attained that world and shall have attained the resurrection from the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but be sexless. That is to say, the restored human family will, during the period of restitution, lose their sexual distinctions, and at the end of the thousand years be all of them in perfection, like Adam was before Eve was taken from his side.
“NOT THE GOD OF THE DEAD”
Having answered their question that the resurrection difficulties they anticipated arose from a failure to appreciate the divine power then in control, our Lord passed onward in the argument to show that they did not grasp the spirit of the Scriptural testimony. They had reasoned that the Old Testament said very little about resurrection anyway. Our Lord proceeded to show them that there were various features of the Scriptures which indirectly taught the resurrection without mentioning it in so many words. He pointed them to the time when the Lord appeared to Moses and spoke to him from the burning bush, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Jesus’ argument with the Sadducees was that since Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were at this time dead, for God to thus speak of them implied a resurrection of the dead, implied that he still recognized them in some sense or degree, that they were not extinct—that God, for instance, would not speak of being the God of a dead camel or a dead dog, because he had made no provision for a resurrection of camels, dogs, etc., but his provision for the resurrection of the human dead is a fact, and constitutes a full explanation of his statement here—that he is still the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We live in a day when Satan’s delusions through Platonic philosophy has gained a large control over the world. All the heathen today believe that death is not death, but an entrance into a fuller life, and Christian people in general so believe, some of them even using this passage of Scripture to demonstrate their belief, saying that if God be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob they could not have been dead in any sense of the word, but must have been alive somewhere, they know not where. We answer that these also err in not giving proper attention to the Scriptures, which teach not that the dead are alive, but that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust. This is what our Lord taught, and this is therefore what all of his followers should believe if they would have the full blessing intended for those who contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Note that our Lord so expresses it: his argument is based upon and introduced by the words, “As touching the dead that they arise, have ye not heard,” etc.—he does not say “as touching the living that they shall arise,” for how can the living arise? it is the dead who need a resurrection. The Scriptures never suggested the absurdity of the resurrection of the living, but continually assure us of the resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust.—Acts 24:15.
Every doctrine of the Bible is intimately associated with the statement that the wages of sin is literal, actual death—not merely the death of the body, but “the soul that sinneth it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4.) The death of the soul was the penalty upon Adam and upon all of his race; hence our Lord redeemed our souls from the tomb (Psalm 49:15), and the redemption price he gave was his own soul, his own being, when “he poured out his soul unto death,” “he made his soul an offering for sin.” (Isa. 53:10,12.) Since it is the souls of men that are redeemed the resurrection is to be a resurrection of the souls, and the resurrection of our Lord, we are told, was a resurrection of his soul, as foretold by the Prophet and confirmed by the Apostle, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol,” hades, in the tomb.—Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:31.
While it is unwise to push this feature of the Truth to the front because of the prejudice that exists in the minds of so many of the Lord’s people, and because it is proper that we should be wise fishers of men, nevertheless it is absolutely indispensable to an appreciation of the divine plan that all should come ultimately to see that this is the fundamental teaching of God’s Word, and to build the proper faith structure in harmony therewith. Adam died and we in him—Christ died as our Redeemer, and thereby made possible the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, as promised in God’s Word. We who now are called have the special invitation to be of the just, the justified, the acceptable with God—to have part in the First Resurrection and be the kings and priests to reign with our Lord on the earth, to bless the world and to grant to mankind in general the gradual uplifting or raising up out of sin-and-death conditions to the full perfection of human nature lost in Adam and redeemed by the precious blood.